Face-to-Face: Meet Dan Wilkinson July 2018

Ever wonder if anyone else is facing the same professional challenges as you? Or just looking to connect with some new people in your field? In IFT's Face-to-Face series, we will be introducing you to a different IFT member every month with a fun, insightful Q&A session.

This month meet...

Dan WilkinsonDan Wilkinson, vice president of sales, White Oak Frozen Foods

  1. How did you get your start in the food industry?
    I was going to a community college in Modesto, Calif. in 1951. It was during the Korean War and able-bodied men in the normal job market were in short supply. That fall, a nearby food company that produced dehydrated vegetables—carrots, bell peppers, celery, etc.—was looking for unskilled production and sanitation workers to fill the gap. I worked there at nights and weekends in addition to my college studies.

    That “part time” job turned into a full-time job the next summer and continued for the next five years. The spring I graduated from The University of Oregon, the company, California Vegetable Concentrates (CVC), had begun construction of a new plant in Modesto and I joined them full time as assistant to the superintendent, who had responsibility for the build out of the new facility. Once complete, I became a supervisor, managing a production shift. That was how I got my start in the food business…

  2. What do you love about your job?
    The challenge of meeting new opportunities. The specialty food business is on fire with change and new creative approaches to better-for-you convenience foods with great flavor. Working with the new innovators to help them match up what’s possible with new concepts to get the best results…

  3. What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
    I have a great curiosity about all the new and exciting developments that are taking place in the global food industry—especially in the development of “plant-based” products that are changing the way we look at vegetables. Keeping up with this change is a huge challenge.

  4. What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
    The discovery of new applications for products we make. Some are right under our noses. The old saying that there’s no dumb questions needs to kept in mind when thinking about change and innovation. Keep asking “dumb” questions!!

  5. How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
    Continued innovation. As the CPG retailers deal with the changing demands of customers, we’ll see more new products in the refrigerated and frozen food aisles of the supermarket. It's a great opportunity for our company given our line of clean label, nutritious, natural IQF seasoning vegetables.

  6. Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
    Raw Oysters at the Acme Oyster Bar in New Orleans.

If you are an IFT member and wish to be profiled, please contact Kelly Hensel at khensel@ift.org or 312-604-0211.